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Reverse Searing 101: 6 Steps to a Perfect Steak

Reverse Searing 101: 6 Steps to a Perfect Steak

Words Holly Hays

Introducing your new go-to method for cooking thicker cuts of meat. Not only is the technique simple and straightforward, it’s also brilliant for pulling off the perfect steak.

Welcome to the magical world of reverse searing, a method that slowly roasts meat for juicy tenderness, then finishes it off with a quick sear for a brown, crispy crust. A major benefit of this approach: Meats cook more evenly, so they’re less likely to wind up overdone. In other words, that medium rare steak you’re cooking actually turns out medium rare. Here are six simple steps—in the kitchen or on the grill—for this easy, effective method.

steak being cooked

1. Select Your Cut

Thick cuts of meat are best for reverse searing; aim for at least 1½ to 2 inches thick. (Thinner cuts will dry out and wind up overcooked.) The method is ideal for larger chicken breasts, pork chops, steaks and big cuts like a prime rib roast.

2. Pat Meat Dry and Season

A dry surface leads to a crispier crust when the meat is seared. Take a paper towel and press gently against the flesh on one side, then flip and repeat on the other. Next, season generously with a sprinkling of salt and pepper (½ to 1 teaspoon of each, depending on the size of the cut). For an extra-dry exterior, leave the seasoned meat uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Prep for Roasting

You can roast your steak or chicken in the oven or on the grill. Both will yield good results, so it’s more a matter of personal preference. Depending on the method you choose, you will prepare your meat in slightly different ways.

  • In the oven: Preheat the oven to a low temperature (about 250 °F). Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (for easier clean up), then nest a wire rack inside the sheet. Place meat on the rack.
  • On the grill: If you’re firing up the grill, you’ll want the same low temperature as in the oven. To do this, set up a two-zone grill with the fire or charcoal on one side. Meat will cook via indirect heat on the other side. No baking sheet needed here; meat can go directly on the grill grate.
steak basting and searing in pan

4. Roast

Roast meat in the oven or on the grill slowly (with grill closed) at low temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. On the grill, flip meat occasionally for more even cooking. Start checking the temperature 15 to 30 minutes into cooking. When food is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than your ideal steak or meat temperature, remove from the oven or grill. Searing will heat food up those final few degrees.

5. Sear

Here again, you can either finish your roasted meat by searing on a stovetop or by using a grill. The results are quite similar so it’s more a matter of convenience and personal preference. Here’s how to properly sear, either way:

  • On the stovetop: Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of a neutral oil with a high smoke point (such as canola or grapeseed) into a skillet, then heat on medium high. When oil is hot—but before it starts to smoke—add meat to pan. Sear for one to two minutes per side until a golden-brown crust develops.
  • On the grill: Crank up the heat or stoke the fire to high, then sear steaks or chops over direct heat, one to two minutes per side. You can also sear in a preheated skillet on the grill; just add a spoonful of neutral oil first.
perfecly cooked steak in tongs

6. Let Meat Rest

For juiciest results, tent your food with foil or cover with a pan lid (so everything stays warm), and let rest five to 10 minutes. Top with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of reverse searing, how about trying your hand at one of these other cooking techniques as well?

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